Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Burmese opposition demonstrate against visiting Burmese General

Dhaka, Bangladesh (Kaladan): Around 30 people belonging to the Burmese opposition in exile staged a demonstration in front of Eidga gate near the National Press Club and high court against the visiting Vice-Senior General Maung Aye, the Vice-Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council of Myanmar today morning.

The demonstration lasted only 30 minutes as the Bangladesh police intervened. There was palpable tension between the police and demonstrators for a while as the police seized posters from the protesters, said Naing Naing, who participated in the demonstration.

"We distributed leaflets written in English and Bengali to the local people on the streets near the press club, high court and Eidga gate before we started the demonstration, he added.

Vice-senior general Maung Aye arrived in Bangladesh today on a three-day official visit, at the invitation of the chief adviser, Fakhruddin Ahmed.

The Burmese general led a 55 member delegation including the Burma Foreign Minister, Nyan Win and some leading businessmen to discuss a host of outstanding issues between the two nations.

Maung Aye is scheduled to meet the chief of Bangladesh's interim administration, Fakhruddin Ahmed, to discuss bilateral issues today afternoon, said the official.

"We have a number of projects lined up with Burma. I'm positive the visit will boost our cooperation in all these areas," Foreign Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury told the media yesterday.

"Our discussions would focus on construction of a road, which would hopefully link Bangladesh to China, leasing land for agriculture and completion of the all-important maritime boundary talks. Repatriation of Rohingya refugees may come up in the discussion," said the foreign adviser.

"At the meeting, Burmese authorities would be asked to expedite the repatriation process which remains stalled since 2005," said a home ministry official.

The visit is taking place after Bangladesh and Burma signed an agreement in Dhaka in July 2007 to construct a 25-kilometre direct road link between the two neighbouring countries at a cost of $ 20million. The road will link Gundhum in Cox's Bazaar to Bawlibazaar (Kyein Chang) in Burma. It will also connect China's Kunming under a tri-nation road connectivity which will give further access to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore and to the Asian Highway.

According to his itinerary, Maung Aye, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the defense services and Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese Army will call on the President, Iajuddin Ahmed, at Bangabhaban on October 8.

The next day, the Myanmar general will begin his day by paying tribute to the war of independence martyrs at the National Martyrs' Memorial at Savar. He will then hold a meeting with the Chief of Army Staff, General Moeen U Ahmed, in the army headquarters and visit the Military Institute of Science and Technology in Mirpur.

On October 9, Maung Aye, the second highest-ranking member of the Burmese military regime, will go to Rangamati and stay there until his departure for Rangoon from Chittagong in the afternoon. General Moeen U Ahmed will see the Burmese leader off at Chittagong Shah Amanat International Airport.

Maung Aye was scheduled to visit Bangladesh in 2007, but it was cancelled because of unrest in Burma after the monks staged nationwide demonstrations against the regime.

After 2002, this will be the third official visit between the two countries. Burma SPDC chairman senior general Than Shwe visited Dhaka in December 2002 and in 2003, then Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia went to Rangoon.

See photos at: Kaladan Press

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